Uber, the app-based ridesharing service based in San Francisco, has caused a stir in a local New Orleans suburb, where Attorney Deborah Foshee began investigating as to whether or not the taxi service can legally operate its vehicles in Jefferson Parish. According to a recent Associated Press article:
Foshee emailed council members Saturday, saying Uber Technologies Inc. lacks licensing, certificates and authority to operate in Jefferson Parish…Council members and Parish President John Young’s administration “have gone to great length to facilitate Uber’s legal entry into the market,” Foshee wrote. “Any attempt to enter the market in violation of current law would subject Uber to a cease and desist order."
Jefferson Parish has no existing regulation regarding ridesharing businesses, whereas neighboring New Orleans has happily and with open arms, accepted companies like Uber, Lyft, and other app-based ridesharing services. In the month of June though, Jefferson Parish shot down local legislation that would have put in place regulation standards on such companies, therefore allowing such technology to be utilized by customers without the regulatory hassle.
This isn’t the first time opportunist have attempted to control the ridesharing industry; in February of 2015, Georgia Republican Alan Powell "introduced legislation, HB 907, that took aim at popular ridesharing services," all in order to appease "Georgia’s taxicab industry, which wants ridesharing services subject to the same regulations that it faces," according to Jason Pye, FreedomWorks’ Director of Messaging. Going back to as far as 2014, the Virginia DMV even went as far as to write a cease and desist letters to Uber and Lyft, which if the two app services ignored, could have forced them "to stop operating or face thousands of dollars in fines."
In a previous article written about the harsh reality of over-regulation on ridesharing businesses, what is seen is that unnecessary interjection by local, state, or federal powers would not only damage the existing and highly profitable business model of these app-based companies, but would become detrimental to the individuals that opt into the company as independent contractors, and the consumers who choose to utilize such technology.
The right thing to do is for Jefferson County to leave Uber alone and continue to strike down any local legislation that would put unnecessary licensing, certificates, or centralized public authority over Uber and other similar companies.